Music Reading Strategies

date: 12/04/2012 category: features
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Music Reading Strategies
Reading Music Most guitarists struggle to practise their sight-reading. It's hard to fit into your schedule when there are so many other fun things to play, and so many people have learnt to play using TAB these days... Why bother? Well, it allows you to communicate with other musicians (piano players don't read TAB!) It gives you access to a wealth of great music that is only written down in conventional notation. It also might get you a well-paid gig the highest-paid gigs I've done were all reading gigs. Some tips:
  • Practise reading music with a metronome. ALWAYS. If nothing else, it puts some pressure on you.
  • Keep going! Do not stop if you make a mistake. (If you are constantly making mistakes, the metronome's too fast. You want to practise at a tempo that's challenging but playable.)
  • Practise your reading at the beginning of your session get it out of the way. Aim to do at least 10 minutes each day (consistent, regular practice is the key!)
  • Try practicing in cut time - metronome on 1 & 3 (straight/funk/latin etc) or on 2 & 4 (swing).
  • Some books you could check out: - Howard Roberts' "Sight Reading" book is excellent, though out-of-print... (PDFs available online?) - William Leavitt "Melodic Rhythms" is great for helping you sort out rhythmic problems.
  • Try reading music for other instruments clarinet, flute, violin etc.
  • Write your own exercises wide interval studies with no rhythm; position studies in unfamiliar areas of the guitar; single string studies which you then try on different strings; string-skipping exercises. Most of these can be written very quickly by hand using random notes.
  • Write music in notation whether your own compositions or transcriptions. This is the flip-side of reading music, and will help hugely. For more tips visit
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